Drakensberg snakes - puff adder

Drakensberg snakes – puff adder

Snakes quite common in the Drakensberg. They are often seen at the Antbear Drakensberg Lodge and also while hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains. Clearly they  cause alarm with most visitors but a great deal of fascination too. Most snakes in the Drakensberg are harmless. The most frequently seen snake is the Natal Green Snake. The second most commonly seen snake is a Skaapsteker with clear white lines down its body. Occasionally a Red-lipped Herald is seen, an olive rather than brown colouring, with obvious orange lips.  The Mole Snake is the biggest snake in the Drakensberg and can be up to two meters long, and thick with a small head. Its colour varies from a rich copper to grey or black. Much of its life is spent underground.

Only four snakes are potentially dangerous, but incidents of snake bite are rare and can be avoided with common sense. The Puff Adder is the only one that is too slow to get out of the way. But it does not want to be trodden on, so be alert to loud huffing and puffing, Stand still, locate the threat and back away. Berg Adders are only likely on top of the Little Berg or higher. They like sunny ledges, so watch your hands when scrambling up steep slopes. Night Adders are active at night although we have seen them during the day occasionally. Finally the Rinkhals, that looks like a small cobra. It can spit in your eye with a distance of up to 3 meters. There are no Mambas, Boomslangs or other poisonous tree-climbing snakes to be found in the Drakensberg.  The deadly Puff Adder and Rinkals are seldom encountered in the higher reaches of the Drakensberg and seem to prefer the lower-lying farmlands, but the high Drakensberg is the home of the Berg Adder.  The Rinkals is more frequently encountered in the grasslands of the southern Drakensberg.

There have been reports of sightings of the deadly poisonous Cape Cobra, which can quite easily be mistaken for the Skaapsteker, especially if you are unaware that the Cape Cobra may be encountered in the Drakensberg.

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